Practices of Intimacy: Preliminary Results from Focus Group Interviews with Mothers and Daughters in Hong Kong and Japan

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Diana KHOR, Department of Global and Interdisciplinary Studies, Department of Global and Interdisciplinary Studies, Hosei University, Japan
Saori KAMANO, National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan
As the first stage in a larger project comparing mother-daughter relationships in Japan and Hong Kong, we conducted focus group discussions with mothers and adult daughters. Our sample included (a) heterosexually-identified and lesbian-identified daughters, in two age groups, 28-40, and over 40, and (b) mothers of heterosexually-identified daughters and those of lesbian-identified daughters. In this presentation, we will focus on the “intimacy work” daughters commit themselves to with respect to their relationship with their mothers and also identify the role of the partner in this. Preliminarily, in Hong Kong, we found that lesbian-identified daughters seemed to set a higher standard or ideal for the relationship and put more effort into it than their heterosexual counterparts. The latter, especially those who are mothers, seemed to be less critical of their mothers but at the same time also shied away from building an emotionally intimate relationship. Further, lack of conformity to gender and sexual norms seemed to be a source of tension less between mothers and daughters than between mothers and their relatives, which in turn could be deflected through the daughters’ socioeconomic achievements. Comparable effects of socioeconomic achievements were not observed in the Japanese context. In addition, the actual relationships between mothers and daughters seemed not to be so different between the two groups of daughters except that the lesbian-identified daughters showed a tendency to attribute the nature of their relationship with their mothers to their sexual orientation. In contrast, a sense of taken-for-grantedness seemed to characterize the relationship between heterosexual daughters and their mothers. We hope to further analyze how the presence or absence of effort daughters put into the relationship with their mothers could reinforce family or gender norms, and how this might differ in different cultural contexts.